How can we teach or learn about social innovation in health?
Tell us your ideas!
                                 Participatory events used for social innovation training. Source: SESH. CC-BY

The purpose of this open call is to identify ways of learning or teaching about social innovation in health. Social innovation is a community-embedded process to improve health and social outcome¹. This includes frameworks, theories, methods, in teaching.

We are developing a set of learning competencies on social innovation in health and will invite finalists to participate in subsequent co-creation sessions with our SIHI network. The finalists will also contribute to a UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) -led consensus-building process to synthesize learning competencies for social innovation in health. 
Social innovation in health can foster creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. Established in 2014, the Social Innovation in Health Initiative (SIHI) aims to advance social innovation through advocacy, research, and capacity building to enhance healthcare delivery and promote universal health coverage. 

This open call will identify the effective practices and strategies in training about social innovations in health, and the key competencies of design, implementation, and sustainable delivery of the innovations. The goal is to generate social innovation in health competencies focused on skills (abilities), mindsets (attitudes), and knowledge (facts). Given the strong focus of this open call on developing a practical guide, ideas with evidence on implementation or outcome evaluation are preferred.

This open call will also have a strong focus on exploring how competency-building practices integrate with complex healthcare ecosystems and diverse training settings. Despite the global expansion of social innovation, there is a notable scarcity of dedicated courses and training modules, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). A scoping conducted by the SIHI fellows identified substantial disparities in the existing studies of Social Innovations in Health training. Among the 20 studies included, the majority (55%) were conducted in the U.S. or U.K., and mainly implemented or collaborated in higher education settings. To bridge this gap and foster innovation, we encourage submissions that involve multiple institutional partners, take place in LMICs, or address adaptations of practices with limited resources.
Submission categories
Our scoping review has identified several key themes and concepts associated with social innovation in health learning competencies (Mindset, Knowledge, and Skills), including effective collaboration/teamwork, practical learning, ethics, knowledge exchange, community engagement, defining challenges (social problems locally), self-assurance, innovative thinking, feedback, and adaptability.

The submission of this open call may include the existing themes or focuses but is not limited to these formats and topics. For example, you could start with a case report regarding social innovation training programs/approaches within health-related institutions/organizations and think about the following questions:

         What is the background of the case? Is it an individual approach or an institutional approach?
         Why is this case important? What are the competencies it addresses?
Who are the audiences this curriculum or module targets?

What are the key topics, skills (abilities), mindsets (attitudes), and knowledge (facts) the curriculum or module addresses?
How might we conduct the training in different settings? 

What are the specific contextual obstacles in conducting training in this environment?

What are the possible local solutions to the challenges? 

Are there any contextual competencies that matter in this training?
What participatory elements could be involved in the social innovation training? 

What are the implementation outcomes of applying these training methods?
What are the outcomes that you hope to achieve with your training?

How might we evaluate these outcomes? 

Are there any criteria or frameworks that could be applied in the evaluation process?
This subcategory is for submissions that might not fit into one of the five other subcategories but that address the main challenge question. Feel free to be creative!
Guideline for contributions
Anyone above 18 years of age is eligible to submit to this open call. 

We are particularly interested in ideas from individuals who have engaged or participated in health-related social innovations as well as those serving as trainees or trainers in health-related social innovation training.
Submissions in all six languages of the United Nations will be accepted (Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese, English, Russian)
Online form submission

  • 500-word submission that describes your idea. These can be submitted as a single Word or text processing file via our online submission form as an attachment.
  • Links to images, audio files, and video files can be embedded as hyperlinks in the text.

For enhanced accessibility to participate in this open call, we also accept audio-only or video-only submissions that are no longer than 3 minutes in length.

  • You would be expected to describe your idea within 3 minutes timeframe.

Format of your submission: There is no required structure for your submission, regardless of whether you choose a 500-word submission or a video/audio description. However, here are some questions that your submission could address:

  • How would you describe your training framework or practice in one or two sentences?
  • What competencies are this training aiming for? Has anyone else tried to develop these competencies?
  • Is there any evaluation of the impact of this training so far? Has this training approach/training method been implemented before?
  • What are some outcomes that you hope to achieve with your training?
This open call will provide unique opportunities to further sharpen the social innovations training, demonstrate innovation competencies, and introduce people to SIHI and related social innovation stakeholders. Specifically:

  • All submissions that have a mean score of 8.5/10 or greater will receive tailored feedback from individuals on the judging panel and committee

  • Selected finalists (number determined by the committee) will have an opportunity to co-create a set of training sessions with regional Social Innovation in Health Initiative Hub, a global event organized by SESH, or other global health stakeholders (e.g., TDR expert on infectious diseases of poverty)

  • Selected finalists (number determined by the committee) will be invited into a UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) -led consensus-building process to synthesize learning competencies for social innovation in health

  • All people who submit eligible submissions will be invited to a series of social innovation training workshops in late July and early August to build capacity for social innovation monitoring and evaluation, crowdfunding, and related competencies

  • All people who submit eligible submissions will receive collated feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of the applications overall, in addition to a report summarizing the process and outcomes of the open call
Judging Criteria
Submissions will be judged on a 1-10 scale according to the following five criteria: 

1). Clear and concise description
2). Relevance
3). Novelty
4). Feasibility, Scalability/Replicability and Sustainability, and 
5). Promotion of Equity and Fairness

After screening for eligibility, all the eligible entries will be assessed by independent judges. Each submission will be reviewed by at least three independent individuals and final decisions will be made by the committee. 

Please note that the Social Innovation in Health Competencies Team may request further information from you about your idea as part of the open call vetting process.

Submission deadline: February 29, 2024

Judging: March – April 2024

Finalist Notifications: April 1st 2024

Co-creation seminar with finalists: April - May 2024

Summer training workshop: June – August 2024

Co-creation sessions will include 3-4 people (including finalists) and each individual will receive an honorarium. The summer training workshop will be a series of eight 60-minute participatory sessions.

Global Organizing Committee
MS. Annabel Price Steiner (U.S)
MS. Eunice Chinazom Jacob (Nigeria)
MS. Jackline Nanono (Uganda)
DR. Jana Deborah Mier-Alpaño (Philippines)
DR. Joseph D Tucker (U.K)
MR. Komang Gde Ardi Pradnya Septiawan (Indonesia)
MS. Nwadiuto Okwuniru Azugo (Nigeria)
DR. Ogechukwu Aribodor (Nigeria)
MS. Zixuan Zhu (China)

Steering committee members for this open call have no declared or potential conflicts of interests.


Open calls provide a structured mechanism to solicit diverse feedback over a period of time. Open calls have been widely used by governments, private foundations, and others to spur innovation. More details about open contests for health are available here.
The World Health Organization defines Social Innovation in Health as “A solution (process, product, practice, market mechanism) implemented through diverse organizational models. The solution has been developed by a range of actors in response to a systemic health challenge within a geographic context. It profoundly challenges the current system status quo and has enabled healthcare to be more inclusive, effective and affordable.”
You can submit an idea as an individual or on behalf of a group up to a maximum of four individuals.
No, there is no limit. However, in the interest of fairness to all other participants, only 1 of your ideas may be selected to qualify as a finalist.
Since the open call is for early-stage ideas, concepts and proposals, participants do not need to have an incorporated business or be part of an organization in order to enter the open call.
Registration for and participation in the challenge is free, with no purchase or payment obligation.
Submission must be the original work of the Participant. The Participant must not knowingly infringe, misappropriate, or otherwise violate any intellectual property rights, privacy rights, or any other rights of any person or entity in the performance of work. Please note that the Social Innovation in Health Competencies Team may request further information from you about your idea as part of the open call vetting process.
The SESH (Social Entrepreneurship to Spur Health) initiative is a partnership joining individuals from the Southern Medical University Dermatology Hospital, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the University of North Carolina-Project China. The main goal of this project is to create more creative, equitable, and effective health services using crowdsourcing open calls and other social entrepreneurship tools. Crowdsourcing is the process of having a group solve a problem and then sharing that solution widely with the public. SESH is the Social Innovation in Health Initiative Hub for China.
The Social Innovation in Health Initiative (SIHI) is an informal network of individuals and institutions sharing a common goal to advance social innovation in health, through research, capacity building and advocacy, to accelerate progress toward universal health coverage and meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Since 2014, SIHI has identified and studied more than 40 community-based social innovations across 17 countries that are transforming healthcare delivery to improve access so no one is left behind.
The network is supported by TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Disease, co-sponsored by UNDP, UNICEF, the World Bank and WHO. TDR is a global programme of scientific collaboration that helps facilitate, support and influence efforts to combat diseases of poverty. TDR is able to conduct its work thanks to the commitment and support from a variety of funders. For the full list of TDR donors, please see : TDR receives additional funding from Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, to support SIHI.
Contact our contest coordinator, Zixuan Zhu, at
¹ Halpaap BM, Tucker JD, Mathanga D, et al. Social innovation in global health: sparking location action. The Lancet Global Health 2020; 8(5):   e633-e4.